Esserman to teach college seminar

Dean Esserman is New Haven's top cop.
Dean Esserman is New Haven's top cop. Photo by James Lu.

New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman will teach a Yale College seminar on “Policing in America” this fall.

Esserman, who was sworn into his post last November, will teach a course that examines the “major innovations in policing over the past three decades,” according to the Yale College seminar description. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she invited Esserman last spring to propose a course, which has since been reviewed and approved by a subcommittee in her office.

“Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it,” Esserman told the News, adding that he was grateful and proud to be teaching the course.

This will not be the first course Esserman, who is now a fellow of Jonathan Edwards college, has taught at Yale. Last semester, he taught a Law School clinic on “Innovations in Policing” with Professor James Forman Jr. LAW ’92. Esserman has quickly become an “engaged member of the community” within both New Haven and Yale, Miller said.

All five students enrolled in Esserman’s Law School clinic last spring said they would recommend the course to other students, according to course evaluations.

While Esserman was originally slated to teach his Yale College seminar in spring 2013, his teaching plans at the Law School “made a fall course more sensible,” Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs George Levesque said.

“[Policing in America is] an interesting topic, taught from a unique perspective that combines scholarly research with ‘real world’ experience,” Levesque said.”As such, it fits perfectly within the goals of the college seminar program.”

Esserman said his fall seminar will begin by covering the murder of Christian Prince on Hillhouse Avenue in 1991 — the same year Esserman arrived as assistant chief in the NHPD.

University President Richard Levin, who said he enjoyed working with Esserman when he previously served at the NHPD, added that today he shares with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. the “highest hopes for [Esserman’s] success as Chief.”

When he served as chief of the police department in Providence, R.I., Esserman taught for several years as a visiting scholar at Roger Williams University. He graduated from Dartmouth College and a earned his law degree at New York University.

Antonia Woodford and Tapley Stephenson contributed reporting.

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